During my time in Norwich, as a Turkish student, one of my biggest hopes was to find a place where I can have good Turkish food and feel like home. I tried a couple of places but none of them felt like home or amazed me. However, a couple of months ago, one of my friends asked a simple but, at the same time, very crucial question: ‘Have you heard of a place called Haggle?’ If he had not told me, I would never have known that it was a Turkish restaurant because for some reason, I always expect Turkish restaurants to have a Turkish name (yes I know, very smart). Soon after, I found myself in St. Benedicts Street, entering Haggle alongside my friend. We only went there to get some Turkish coffee and tea but the moment I stepped in, I felt different. From the lighting to the decorations, it all reminded me of Turkey and I felt like I was sitting in a place in Istanbul.
After that short coffee visit, I went to Haggle a couple of times to have dinner, each time with different friends because when you have the opportunity to introduce Turkish food to people, you should introduce it to as many people as you can. One of my friends told me that the decorations reminded her of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul because they have a traditional Middle Eastern style. Also, the coffee cups and the traditional tea glasses are the ones we always use in Turkey, so in a way going there is also a way to explore Turkish culture.
Then comes the best part: the food. Having tried some of the dishes, desserts and drinks in Haggle, I can recommend some of mine and my friends’ favourite dishes to have. We normally spend half an hour choosing what to eat, so some guidance might helpful. Here you can have an individual meal, or order several different plates and share them with your friends.
What I recommend and what most Turkish people do is, start with the mezzes (small plates, you can have it as starters) – any type, you can also combine hot and cold mezzes. My favorites are Atom (garlic yoghurt with chillies), Ezme (very spicy and fresh salad) and Cacık. Also, if you are an aubergine fan, you could also give Patlıcan Soslu a try.
Then move onto the main dishes which include side dishes, pan, oven and charcoal barbecue options. I highly recommend Beyti, it is lamb with yogurt sauce, tomatoes and pistachios wrapped in lavash bread. I am normally a huge Beyti lover and Haggle didn’t disappoint me when I ordered one. From the oven section, you should try Pide (oval flatbread) which can be had with vegetables, meat or sausage, whichever you prefer. You won’t regret ordering one pan dish, even if you’re having pide or kebab.
For desserts, try Kunefe. The way the mix of sweet cheese pastry and pistachios come together is absolutely delicious.
To accompany your meal, you should try the dry Turkish beer and of course, to finish off the day, have a Turkish tea or Turkish coffee. Also, there are many meals without meat, so don’t be deceived in thinking that Turkish food is entirely meat-based.
So have a night out with your friends, full of delightful Turkish food, and immerse yourself in the wonderful atmosphere of Haggle. But don’t forget to make a reservation, as they might be fully booked. And if you go there with me (or see me there), I might surprise you with a fortune-telling session after you have your Turkish coffee.